The University of Maine women’s basketball team wasted little time establishing a foothold in Saturday night’s 60-49 America East victory over rival Albany, scoring the game’s first eight points to take a lead it would never relinquish en route to a fifth consecutive win over the Great Danes.
“I was happy with our performance. We came out in the beginning and played real well to build a lead,” UMaine coach Amy Vachon said. “We’re playing real well offensively together. It took a while to figure out our roles but everyone is confident they can make shots and when you have five people on the floor who can score, it makes us hard to guard.”
Junior point guard Dor Saar and junior forward Maeve Carroll each poured in 21 points for UMaine (7-11 overall, 3-1 AE). Saar also had a game-high six assists and five rebounds and Carroll added a game-leading 10 rebounds and three assists.
Anne Simon posted nine points and five rebounds along with two steals.
Maddy McVicar added six points and five rebounds.
Helene Haegerstrand’s 10 points off the bench, eight each from Amanda Kantzy and Kyara Frames and seven from Lucie Descortes paced the Great Danes (6-10, 2-1 AE).
Kantzy grabbed nine rebounds and Frames logged three assists.
UMaine, which entered the game 11th in the country in 3-pointers made, went 8-for-22 from long distance (36.4 percent) against the team that had the stingiest 3-point defense in the conference (24.8 percent).
Coach Colleen Mullen said UAlbany knew UMaine would shoot a lot of threes and the Great Danes didn’t defend them well.
“We didn’t execute the game plan right from the start. It was like we were stuck in mud,” Mullen said. “We talked all week about defending their threes but we weren’t focused.”
Saar went 5-for-10 from the 3-point arc.
“That’s part of our game,” Saar said. “We’re confident in our shooting. I got a lot of clear looks today.”
UMaine also outrebounded the much taller Great Danes 41-33, including a 12-8 advantage in offensive rebounds.
UAlbany had four players standing at least 6-foot-1 who played anywhere from 12 minutes, 22 seconds to 28:27. UMaine had only one player 6 feet or taller who played at all in Kira Barra and she logged just 3:39.
“Rebounding was an emphasis,” the 5-11 Carroll said. “We knew they liked to go inside so we made an effort to box them out. And everybody on our team rebounded. They didn’t think we could [rebound with them] so they didn’t box us out.”
UMaine’s five guards combined for 23 rebounds.
“Give Maine credit. For their size, for how small they are compared to us, they did a tremendous job doubling our post players so we had to make our catches high,” Mullen said.
UMaine’s guards constantly provided help inside, harassing UAlbany’s post players to make it hard for them to turn and shoot.
It was a stellar defensive effort as UMaine held UAlbany’s top two scorers, center Lexi Schecter (13.5 points per game) and guard Kyara Frames (9.6 ppg) to four and eight points, respectively.
The speedy Frames, a third-team all-conference selection last year, was being guarded by McVicar and didn’t score in the second half, missing all five of her shots.
“Maddy did a great job. She guarded her for 40 minutes. That’s a lot,” Vachon said.
Offensively, Carroll attacked the basket throughout, using her quickness to maneuver past her taller defenders. She was 10-for-19 from the floor.
“I know I have to be a threat inside. They were bigger and stronger than I am so the only thing I could beat them with was my quickness,” Carroll said.
Carroll hit a 10-foot jumper to start the game, converted a turnaround layup and then fed Simon for a layup before Saar’s 12-foot jumper capped the surge.
UMaine led by as many as 13 in the first half and took a 35-25 lead into the intermission.
Saar scored 16 points in the first half on 6-for-10 shooting, including a 4-for-7 showing from the 3-point arc. She also dished out three assists .
Carroll contributed 10 points, three rebounds and two assists and Simon chipped in with six points.
Frames and Descortes kept the Great Danes within striking distance by combining for 15 first-half points.
UAlbany got within six early in the third period but UMaine scored the next 11 points and was never seriously threatened again. Carroll scored five of the points and Saar and Kelly Fogarty each hit a 3-pointer.